In a world of benefits challenges, getting the word out about what you offer is the
most important step you can take toward ensuring a successful benefits program.
BY JENNIFER BENZ AND RITA HARRIS
Communication is Key
HEALTH & BENEFITS LEADERSHIP
Editor’s Note: Jennifer Benz will be leading a general
session on Thursday, April 20, at the Health & Benefits
Leadership Conference in Las Vegas titled Realizing an
ROI in Benefits Communication.
Companies of all sizes struggle with sticky business challenges. And as the engine that drives people, HR bears its fair share of the
burden, contending with a changing workforce,
mediocre engagement, rapidly evolving technology
and regulatory challenges—to name a few.
All this trickles down to benefits departments
that are tasked with being more nimble than ever to
keep up with the needs of an evolving workforce, and
respond to ever-increasing demands from both the
business and a shifting regulatory environment.
While communication isn’t the only answer to these
challenges, it alone can solve
many problems, while
helping you meet
important goals. In
this article, we’ll
dig into some of
the big challenges
leaders and how more
frequent and more
communication can help
Your benefits strategy is intended to help you meet
compliance requirements, manage costs and—most
importantly—take care of your employees so they
can take care of your customers. Because benefits
are such a sizable investment, your strategy requires
careful planning and a long-term perspective. But the
benefits landscape keeps shifting, making it difficult to
see far enough into the future to be certain about what
to do next. The fiduciary rule, overtime, minimum-wage regulations and the uncertainty over the future
of the Affordable Care Act are making strategic long-term planning more difficult than ever.
In an environment of uncertainty, some companies
tend to communicate less, waiting until complete
information is available. Or, simply, resources are
taken up with compliance, leaving little opportunity
for strategic communications. The risk here is that
employees feel disconnected and communication
channels fall behind expectations.
Meanwhile, smartphones, tablets, social media and
hyper-personalized online consumer experiences have
raised the bar for how people expect to collaborate,
communicate, and consume and share information in
all aspects of their lives—including at work.
interested in helping
themselves or your
And they’re more
likely to miss work
and jump ship for new
cost the U.S. $450
billion to $550 billion
in lost productivity
each year. According
to Gallup’s latest poll,
is stagnant. Only
32 percent of U.S.
workers were engaged
in their jobs in 2015,
compared to 31. 5
percent the previous
year. The needle is
expected to move only
a point or two in 2016.
research by Aon
Hewitt, the best
driver of engagement
helps employees feel like they know what’s going on in
the business, have a voice and are empowered to make
decisions. Without it, they’ll leave. Or worse, they’ll be
disengaged and cost the business a ton of money.
Successful companies recognize effective
communication is essential to meeting workforce
and benefits challenges, such as driving participation
in health, wellness and financial programs, and
increasing employee satisfaction, productivity and
the bottom line. These organizations make significant
investments in communication.
No matter what the benefit challenge or goal,
communication has the power to connect with
employees in a meaningful way, improving both your
benefits program and workforce engagement.
Most importantly, it drives benefits adoption and
connects benefits to the employee experience.
Working with dozens of clients during the past
decade amplifies the value of communication for
With people starting to work in their teenage
years and continuing well into their 70s, we also have
broader age ranges in the workforce than ever before.
In 2015, millennials became;the largest demographic
sector;in the U.S. workforce. And their numbers will
climb as boomers retire and are replaced by new
graduates and others launching their careers. At the
same time, the shape of the workforce is changing—
now including everyone from full-time employees to
contingency and “gig” workers.
All generations and employee types have specific
wants, needs and expectations from their work and
employer. And businesses want, need and expect a lot
in return from their workforce.